Tag Archives: workforce

Where Do You Work? Everywhere!

May 18, 2017 by

People share documents, manage projects, offer advice, and develop relationships without sitting across from each other in the office.

The mobile workforce in the U.S. has grown from 96.2 million in 2015 to a projected 105 million by 2020, accounting for nearly 75 percent of the U.S. labor force, according to a new report from IDC, a global market intelligence firm. It’s not just millennials delivering these increases, it’s the growing number of independent contractors working alone or with other free agents. No longer just in offices, we work at home, client offices, and a variety of other places.

Employees are experiencing a much greater choice of location and work-life balance. These factors have reshaped our job as it’s always been. Work now happens at the office, home, almost anywhere!

We are choosing places with engaging, welcoming environments—accessible, convenient spots where people come together. For those really on the move, airports, train stations, planes, and trains offer the means to connect.

Many of us compensate for physical isolation by connecting with others via social media, chat rooms, and forums, while connecting to our work colleagues via the internet. Feeling connected to others is why offices, or places like coffee shops and libraries, draw us in. The past decade has seen this café environment evolve from a place to meet a friend into a vital workplace fueled by caffeine and having its own social life. Technology enabled this phenomenon for laptops and cell phones. Now it’s even better supported by cloud computing, smart phones, and applications encouraging social networking and productivity.

These locales support individual work activities, but have the added benefit of not obligating us to interact with others as in an office. Society has adjusted. Lighting and ergonomics have improved. Still not the best for private meetings because they lack security and privacy, there’s hardly a coffee shop where you won’t find someone working every hour it is open. Even basic work needs like electrical plugs and open tables remain in demand.

The next step, co-working space, is designed to be used either on a lease or drop-in basis. Individual contractors, either would-be entrepreneurs or commute-avoiding employees, embrace these facilities as a structured workspace to deliver more emotional, social, and physical support than is found at home or in cafés.

Co-working centers today are more recognized as places where work happens.

Doug Schuring is the director of sales administration at All Makes Office Equipment Co.

This column was printed in the Summer 2017 edition of B2B.

The Compass in the Landscape

October 16, 2016 by and
Photography by Bill Sitzmann

With growing levels of philanthropic donations sloshing around Omaha, it’s important to keep in mind that underserved segments of the community remain. Sometimes these segments of the community are out of sight. Sometimes their needs are unknown, hidden to those who would otherwise
offer assistance.

Folks in charge of the Omaha Community Foundation are paying mind to the hidden needs of the metro area. In fact, Sara Boyd, CEO of the Omaha Community Foundation, unveiled a new initiative to confront the problem this fall.

“The Landscape Project is a data-driven reflection of the Omaha-Council Bluffs area,” says Boyd. “It is an online resource to integrate data in our community about how we are faring on certain issues with community priorities and lived experiences to help us gain greater insight into how we’re doing.”

The Landscape Project relies on existing data—along with direct engagement with specific segments of the population—to gauge where gaps remain in community support.

“The goal of the project is to create shared learning and understanding, for all of us, to see how we’re doing on some of these priorities,” Boyd says. “Then to potentially have a process or structure in place that allows for greater participation and prioritization on these issues; and then, from there to coordinate or align our efforts.”

While the Landscape Project is like a compass for philanthropy, Omaha Gives is the foundation’s vehicle for driving charitable donations to organizations around the metro. In 2016, the fourth annual Omaha Gives campaign amassed almost $9 million—a new record for the 24-hour funding drive—and generated more than $1 million in new donations from first-time participants. “That, for us, is very meaningful,” says Boyd. “It was not just a celebration of giving, but also to say, ‘can we grow the pie of giving in our community in some way?’”

“The Landscape Project is a data-driven reflection of the Omaha-Council Bluffs area.”

-Sara Boyd

Boyd says the foundation began developing the Landscape Project concept roughly five years ago while reviewing studies about local urban problems. Several of those studies were one-time only, others were outdated. So, the Omaha Community Foundation partnered with United Way and Iowa West Foundation to do a community assessment.

Moving forward with the Landscape Project, identification of local housing problems illustrates one way the new online resource could help inform philanthropy and public policy alike: “Throughout the country we know there is disparity in home ownership along many levels. One of those disparities is along different communities and different races. Blacks own their own homes at significantly lower rates in our community than they do elsewhere in the country.”

landscape-foundation1Home ownership, she says, is an indicator of wealth-building and asset accumulation. Boyd hopes data from the Landscape Project will help policymakers and nonprofits to cross-reference the experiences of other communities (nationwide) that have battled similar problems, analyze how the problems were alleviated, and bring relevant solutions to Omaha.

The Landscape Project will begin with six areas of focus: health, neighborhoods, safety, transportation, education, and workforce. “Really, the long-term goal is to strengthen our ability to solve problems as a community and move the needle on important issues,” Boyd says.

Visit thelandscapeomaha.org for more information.

Aging in the Office

October 13, 2016 by

The older workforce is continuously growing. By 2022, the number of workers over the age of 54 is projected to increase by nearly 40 percent, due largely to baby boomers working past typical retirement age. Older workers’ valuable experience contributes to their companies’ productivity. Yet, they experience natural age-related conditions that compromise peak performance. Paying attention to ergonomic principles in office furniture and work practices can improve and enhance older workers’ ability to effectively contribute.

An older workforce brings stability and institutional memory to a company. In fact, older workers often impart knowledge to new hires—which is a proven way new workers learn how to do their jobs. C-level employees often become mentors, developing younger talent. Older workers at all job levels tend to be more motivated, with lower rates of absenteeism.

The down side is there’s no denying age-related functional limitations. Fortunately, steps can be taken in everyday office tasks to prevent strain or injury. These include: understanding sound ergonomics and methods of human factors, along with teaching how to recognize the principles of universal design, regardless of age, or physical limitations.

Age affects the musculoskeletal system by reducing one’s strength. Muscles and tendons weaken. Similarly, bones become more porous, and cartilage can degenerate—both of which are considered a normal consequence of aging. Musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs) often involve back, hand, shoulder, and arm pain.

While 62 percent of men and women between ages 51 and 61 report one or more MSDs, work-related MSDs are difficult to separate from those caused outside the office. Employers should be proactive in making sure tasks neither cause MSDs nor make them worse.

These Steps Will Assist Workers of All Ages:

Ergonomically designed seating with effective lumbar support is essential for an office chair. Armrests are doubly important for the older worker to support forearms during typing, and to help rising from the chair.

Encourage breaks. Short stretch breaks disrupt the repetitive arm/wrist/finger motions of keyboard and mouse usage. Standing to work is more available today, and should be done approximately 18 minutes every hour.

Other Age-Related Changes

Hearing loss occurs at a rate of 2–3.5 percent per year throughout life, meaning, a 50-year-old may miss what a 25-year-old hears clearly. Also, an older worker is less able to tune out background noise.

Vision changes begin to affect most people in their 40s or 50s. While the amount of light needed to see increases, the time it takes for eyes to adjust to changing levels also increases.

Addressing these limitations may require individually adjustable task lighting, reducing the pace of presentation in training situations, using larger type in instructional materials, and employing sound-masking techniques to dampen background noise. Though these changes are intended to help older workers, such steps are likely to benefit all workers.

Closing

Recognizing both sensory and musculoskeletal differences in older workers means adapting the workplace to offer them as much comfort and safety as possible. It also means encouraging ergonomically sound ways of working. These adjustments help younger workers as well, who will continue to benefit from them as their generations mature. B2B

Doug Schuring is the director of sales administration at All Makes Office Equipment Co.

Doug Schuring is the director of sales administration at All Makes Office Equipment Co.